This feature length documentary which I watched today was shown as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival. It harks back to the pioneering age when Space Exploration was front and centre in the public's consciousness and for Americans it's every success was regarded as a source of intense National pride in their Cold-war Space-Race against the Soviet Union. Astronauts were routinely and quite rightly feted as All-American heroes. Here was a time when the various Apollo missions were a Prime-time ratings winner, transfixing an anxious TV-watching public who tuned in on a daily basis for the latest updates knowing as they did the inherent danger involved.
I came to this as a casually interested viewer with, at best a passable knowledge of the history of Space Exploration. Without a doubt my interest has now been piqued. It's a thoroughly enjoyable documentary which deserves to be shown (and seen) on the large screen. Gene Cernan is the hero and focus of this story; he being the last of the 12 men to set foot on the moon. However Gene or any of the other players are not presented as mere cardboard heroes; instead the very real man as well as Astronaut is revealed- there is no excess light shown on Gene the astronaut to the exclusion of Gene the man, husband and Father. For instance sadness and regret at being away from his daughter for extended periods are juxtaposed with the euphoria of being one of the lucky few to know what it really feels like to get your space-boots covered in moondust.
The fact that Gene is now in his 80's as are most of the other Astronauts featured makes it a timely production and it also lends a poignancy and a gravitas to it. Gene comes across as a proud but very grounded man capable of making telling insights and being able to reflect meaningfully on his achievements without ever wearing them haughtily. The contributions from former fellow Astronauts, Mission control commanders and family members by turn combine to create a full and rounded picture of the man. The Last Man on the Moon is very deftly paced and well edited. Its shot through with the most amazing and varied archive footage including everything from amateur home-movies to NASA archived material. When viewed through the prism of today's super-advanced technological times there's a flying-by-the-seat-of-their-pants feel to much of the Mission control and Space footage which I found fascinating. There's a great swinging-sixties soundtrack to boot.
Definitely recommended. One final thought; does anyone else think that Gene Cernan is a ringer for Clint Eastwood?